The worst animal abusers could face five years in prison as the “milestone” Animal Welfare (Sentencing) Bill is made law this week.
In 2017 the Government pledged to reform the maximum sentence for those prosecuted under the Animal Welfare Act, receiving support from cross-party politicians. The Bill was brought forward by West Dorset MP Chris Loder in June 2019.
Today (28 April) the Bill passed its final stage in Parliament and will receive royal assent tomorrow (29 April). The Bill, which is expected to come into force this year, means courts will have the flexibility to impose tougher sentences for the worst animal abusers. The law will bring England, and Wales once the Welsh Parliament passes a legislative consent motion, into line with Scotland and Northern Ireland.
Welfare charities have campaigned for a number of years for increased sentencing and the RSPCA said the Bill was a “huge step forward” for animal welfare.
“Tougher sentences will act as a stronger deterrent to potential animal abusers and will help us in our aim to cancel out animal cruelty once and for all,” said RSPCA chief executive Chris Sherwood.
“This reform is long overdue – for many years, the most violent and horrific abuse and cruelty received a maximum penalty of just a few months. We’re proud to have some of the best standards of animal welfare in the world but custodial sentences have long been letting us down.”
“It’s time that the sentences imposed on individuals who cause pain and suffering to animals reflect the severity of the
Mr Sherwood added every year the charity’s officers are faced with cases of the “most unimaginable cruelty”.
“Animals have been starved, shot, stabbed, beaten to death and drowned. At least now, in those cases that leave us heartbroken, our courts will be able to hand out sentences that truly reflect the severity of the crimes,” he said.
MP Chris Loader said: “MP Chris Loder said: “It has taken years of hard work to realise this – thank you to all involved. The campaign for our animals continues. Banning live exports and non-stunned slaughter next.”
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